Al Osteen passes

Al Osteen, a beloved member of the bluegrass community in upstate South Carolina, died yesterday (12/31) following a battle with cancer. He had been a noted professional performer since the late 1960s, but his lasting mark is the large number of young musicians whose lives he touched as a teacher.

In addition to offering private banjo instruction, Osteen had been affiliated for some time with Young Appalachian Musicians (YAM) who provide after school music instruction for students in grades 3-8, as well as summer music camps in Pickens, SC. YAM raises money to obtain instruments and hire local musicians to teach the art of traditional string music to young folks who might never be exposed to it otherwise.

Among Al’s former private students are two-time National Banjo Champ Charles Wood and reigning IBMA Banjo Player of the Year and Grascals banjo picker Kristin Scott Benson.

We had chronicled the efforts of his many friends to help raise funds to defray the costs associated with his chemotherapy previously on Bluegrass Today.

According to an obituary published by the Petty Funeral Home in Landrum, SC, Osteen’s memorial service will be held this Sunday (1/2).

His family has requested that any remembrances be made as donations to YAM.

Young Appalachian Musicians
c/o Betty McDaniel
792 Holly Springs School Rd.
Pickens, SC 29671

Rest in Peace, Al Osteen.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.

  • tb

    I never had the pleasure of knowing Mr. Osteen. I’ve only read about him here on the blog. I’m a part-time musician in a bluegrass gospel group based in southwest Virginia. Our music is our ministry and we perform for God’s glory and support charities as well. Often, children in our church and elsewhere express interest in our music. We support those who want to learn to play when we can and as much as we can. It’s a wonderful feeling to know you’re helping a child to recieve a gift (music) that will bring them joy throughout their life. From what I’ve read, Mr. Osteen felt this satisfaction many times.
    I’m thankful for his work here on earth and pray for peace and comfort for each member of his family and for all his friends at this time of grieving.